With Plan B Covid guidance, regulations and rules being activated, Yorkshire-born Social Enterprise and Retail Incubator Space, Fabrication, urges shoppers to continue support Micro Craft and Design Businesses, Makers and Artisans this Christmas. From family-run businesses, crafters, independent shops, small businesses… they have never needed our support more.
For the tenth year in a row Fabrication is supporting 100 local makers across its two stores (Leeds, Albion St and a pop-up shop on Coney St in York) and also via their online platform, so that Christmas shoppers can find bespoke and one of a kind, ethically produced gifts which delight the heart, invest in the local economy and protect the planet.
Fabrication’s Founder and retail expert, Dawn Wood, said; “We’ve supported around 400 makers since our first shop, and 11 have opened their own in various places. We’re also now consulting with other high streets and shopping centres because demand for ethically produced, individual products is growing and growing.
“Everything we sell is produced locally, so there are no empty shelves or waiting for shipping containers. All the staff are also the crafters, so you can chat directly to them about their work.
“Many of the items are one-offs, so you’re not going to be giving the same gift as everyone else. We love to use reclaimed materials too and we have whole ranges of sustainable goods. Many of our products, especially our body products, are vegan and cruelty-free so you can give with a totally guilt-free conscience!”
Dawn established Fabrication in 2008 and is a maker herself. She’s passionate about helping others grow to their full potential. She trained as a Fashion Designer and has also worked as a costume maker for many years, making clothing for film, theatre and museums, as well as bridal wear and her own fashion label.
She got fed up with business support being top down, with those offering sessions not really understanding the way that artists and makers work, especially with commissions, trying out designs and pricing. She became despondent due to the isolation of lone working, and lack of access to specialist tools.
Dawn saw the need for a work and retail incubator space – which supplied equipment, and the space to spread out, along with mutual support and mentoring and a collaborative working environment. Fabrication works on the basis that individually, it’s difficult for a maker to have a high street presence, and adapt and grow their businesses, but working together it becomes much more viable.
Says Dawn; “When Fabrication first started out, businesses such as Etsy and Not On the High Street didn’t exist, so our way of working was unusual. I think we’re still leading the way and it’s great to see that this way of working is now becoming the norm.
“This season, some of our most sought-after gifts include our glass Christmas decorations which are positively flying off the shelves, together with our vegan candles and body products which are always a popular buy, as are our sustainably made woodwork items and clothing. Our stunning jewellery goes down well, many are one off pieces, more exclusive than you’d find anywhere else, and we have something to suit all tastes. Our stylish and cosy homewares are also great gifts.”
“There’s been a huge rise in shopping with independents due to Covid. Customers report feeling safer in less crowded spaces, as well as wanting to support smaller and local communities. More holidaying at home has also helped folks realise what they have locally.“
“We’re hopeful for the future because we feel that “independent” is the future of the High Street. We can adapt the way we work more easily and fit into the changing world. Our collaborative way of working means we spread the burden of running a business across our organisation and help each other through any ups and downs. We survived the last 2 years and we can grow from the lessons learned whilst adapting to Covid.”
“Being a part of Fabrication has allowed me to connect with other makers as well as my customers directly,” says Lucy Howell of Saffron Skies, specialising in sustainable fashion. “This has been especially lovely when a lot of my sales and communication over the past year have been online. As someone with a big focus on sustainability, I particularly love the emphasis on shopping local. I am so thankful to Fabrication encouraging smaller artists by giving us the opportunity to sell on the high street and for creating an amazing community of talented people with such a range of experience and expertise who are so willing to support each other – I truly believe you wouldn’t find anything like it anywhere else and I’m so excited to be a part of it!”
5 ways you can support local businesses and artisan craft makers this Christmas.
*Shop local! It’s really important to support the business on your doorstep, it’s good for the environment and it saves you time.
*Discover handmade crafters and artists in your local area – you can do a local search rather than relying on big supermarkets and high street stores, and it doesn’t have to be more expensive.
*Attend a Christmas craft shop, stall or fair – from small village churches, community centres, outdoor fairs or huge craft shows and shops with hundreds of people passing – each one will have small businesses, artisan makers and crafters selling great products.
*Share the love and spread the word – if you’ve loved an item or an artist – shout about it – even if you haven’t bought, but you love what they offer – share their page or etsy link on social media – help them share what they do…
*Buy a gift voucher or an experience and make a day of crafting! We understand that art is sometimes very personal, but you can always buy a gift voucher or an experience and make a day of it. You can craft and brunch and you get to take your project home! It doesn’t get better than that.